Growing hellebores

Posted: Monday 17 February 2014
by Adam Pasco

I planted a single Oriental hybrid in my shade border about six years ago, and now this generous plant is surrounded by its offspring.

Thank goodness for hellebores. Despite the wet weather of the past few weeks (or should that be months), these magnificent flowers are among the few things that have tempted me outside. Aren't they glorious?

I planted a single Oriental hybrid in my shade border about six years ago, and now this generous plant is surrounded by its offspring. And while their individual flower colours and markings vary widely from the mother, I know who she really is, as she sits proudly at their centre.

That's the lovely thing about leaving plants to flower and then set seed: they'll fill your borders with home-bred progeny. It's a very good reason not to be too heavy-handed with the hoe, particularly around plants such as hellebores, foxgloves, columbines and honesty, which produce successive generations for us to enjoy.

Of course, they don't have to be left where they developed, although somehow I feel mine have earned the right to remain. Some can be transplanted to more suitable,  less cramped positions, while others are potted and given away to friends.

There's a case to be made for promptly deadheading some plants to prevent them setting seed, as the resulting carpets of seedlings can get invasive. Lady's mantle is one plant I do clip over to prevent self-seeding, as from experience I know how it pops up everywhere. But to my mind, hellebores are different. I love their beautiful green swelling seed heads almost as much as their flowers. There's a sense of anticipation as I wait for them to ripen fully, then split to reveal the shiny black jewels hidden within.

Sometimes I do purposely save their seeds to sow and grow new plants, but in reality nature does it for me, with no effort from me at all. I may just clear a little space around the parent and throw a layer of compost over the surrounding soil surface. Then I just let the seeds fall into this and grow.

What better way to cheer oneself up on these damp, dreary winter days than popping out to enjoy these flowers. Sometimes I pick a single flower, bring it indoors, and float it face upwards in a small bowl of water placed next to me on my desk. Perfect inspiration for a day of writing. What more could any gardener want?

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oldchippy 17/02/2014 at 16:38

I started off with one pink and two white Hellebores now I have dozens of white and still only one pink,and the rest of the garden covered with forget me knots.

Adam Pasco 17/02/2014 at 16:45

Now that's what I love about gardening ... plants for free!

fidgetbones 17/02/2014 at 17:02

I started with one white and one a dusky pink. The pink one has produced more offspring.  I also have forget me nots everywhere... A testament to the fact that I hoe very little, and leave a lot of self setters when I know what they are.

Bookertoo 17/02/2014 at 17:10

I pull out just about every forgetmenot I can see at the end of the flowering season, which leaves me enough to be gorgeous but not totally overrun!!  

The darker reddish hellebores have started to push up buds, more than I expected i am happy to say, while the white ones have been open for a while - the pale one with the spotted inside is fully open, lots of flowers and beautiful.

Amazing how much flowering there is going on out there, tho' from indoors it doesn't look as if anything is happening at all except snowdrops and polyanthus - but it isn't so.  Little irises, the reticula group, and the first hepatica nobilis shining out at me from a patch of greenery where it must have self seeded - more power to it and long may it spread. 


Verdun 17/02/2014 at 21:00

Spring is 

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